Huntington Announces Casting For MAN IN THE RING
The colorful and complex true story of six-time world champion prizefighter Emile Griffith is told in Man in the Ring, a new play written by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Cristofer, directed by Michael Greif, and presented by the Huntington Theatre Company from Nov. 16 to Dec. 22, 2018 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Imbued with the warmth of Griffith's character and the joyful music of his childhood home, Man in the Ring chronicles Griffith's sweeping life story, from his humble beginnings in the Virgin Islands to his passionate love affairs and the tragedy that changed his life.
The production features John Douglas Thompson and Kyle Vincent Terry, who portray Griffith at different stages of his life. Thompson, who recently appeared as the Starkeeper in the Broadway production of Carousel and was nominated for a Tony Award for Becker in August Wilson's Jitney (2016), plays Griffith as an older man whose fading mind and memories drive the play's impressionistic, music-filled narrative. Terry plays young Emile, who had a humble Caribbean upbringing and a tumultuous childhood, and whose gentle nature and early desire to be a milliner were swept aside when his physical size and strength led promoters to recruit him into professional boxing.
Cristofer's script plumbs the impact of Griffith's vibrant boxing career and doesn't shy from the fluid sexuality he wrestled with throughout his life. Griffith's homosexuality was an open secret in the boxing world of the 1960s, and many believe the homophobic taunts from opponent Benny "the Kid" Paret fired up Griffith in the infamous 1962 fight in Madison Square Garden that led to Griffith's lifelong search for acceptance, redemption, and true love.
"One of the hardest things to do in theatre is to tell the full story of a complex person's life," says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. "Michael Cristofer beautifully captures the excessive, eccentric, and emotional parts of Emile's amazing story by mixing the champ's easy charm with the raw and traumatic things he experienced."
"Emile Griffith was a true hero in my book," says Cristofer. "He was a young immigrant from the Virgin Islands and a man struggling with his identity while in a brutal sport who, as an older man slipping into dementia, worked to find peace amid the love, pain, and joy that was his life."
In addition to John Douglas Thompson and Kyle Vincent Terry as Emile Griffith, the cast for Man in the Ring also includes Victor Almanzar (Between Riverside and Crazy in NYC) as Luis, Griffith's lover and later his caretaker, Starla Benford (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway) as Griffith's mother Emelda, Krystal Joy Brown (Motown on Broadway) as his wife Sadie, Gordon Clapp (Emmy Award for "NYPD Blue") as boxing manager and promoter Howie Albert, Sean Boyce Johnson (To Kill a Mockingbird at Pendragon Theatre) as his rival Benny "the Kid" Paret, Carla Martinez (Merrily We Roll Along at the Huntington) as Paret's wife Lucia, and Eliseo Roman (On Your Feet on Broadway) as Paret's manager Manuel Alfaro. The ensemble includes Richard Gatta (Bright Star on Broadway), Dave Heard, and Michael Underhill (Richard III, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company) as boxers and others. Max Kennedy is the guitarist and Juan Mejia is the percussionist.
Michael McElroy (Disaster! on Broadway) is the music director and composer of incidental music, Malaiyka Reid is the movement coordinator, David Zinn (Tony Award winner for Spongebob Squarepants and The Humans on Broadway) is the set designer, Emilio Sosa (On Your Feet and Motown: the Musical on Broadway) is the costume designer, Ben Stanton (Junk and Fun Home on Broadway) is the lighting designer, Matt Tierney (The Low Road at The Public Theater) is the sound designer, and Peter Nigrini (Dear Evan Hansen and Spongebob Squarepants on Broadway) is the projection designer. Rick Sordelet is fight director, Christian Kelly Sordelet is co-fight director, and Deborah Hecht is the dialogue coach. Emily F. McMullen is the production stage manager and Jeremiah Mullane is the stage manager.
John Douglas Thompson (Emile) has been seen on Broadway in the 2018 production of Carousel and in the 2016 production of August Wilson's Jitney, both for which he was Tony Award nominated, as well as A Time to Kill, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Julius Caesar. Off Broadway Thompson has starred in King Lear, The Iceman Cometh (Obie Award, Drama Desk Award), Othello (Obie, Lucille Lortel Award), Tamburlaine the Great (Obie, Drama Desk), and Satchmo at the Waldorf (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Award, NAACP Theatre Award. On film, Thompson has been seen in The Bourne Legacy, Glass Chin, Michael Clayton, and Wolves, and he has appeared in numerous television series and made for TV films. Thompson is a Fox Fellow and a Robert Brustein Award recipient.
Kyle Vincent Terry (Young Emile) recently served as fight choreographer on The Royale (Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Capital Repertory Theatre). Regional theatre credits include Othello (New York Theatre Workshop), Fred in A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Co.), George in Intimate Apparel (Chautauqua Theatre Company), and Guy of Gisbourne in Robin Hood (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Television credits include "Gotham," "Elementary," "SMILF," "Madame Secretary," "Bull," and "The Badlands Girl." He received his MFA from the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium and his BA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He was born and raised in Chicago, IL.
Michael Cristofer won the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for his 1977 play The Shadow Box. He previously appeared at the Huntington in Captors. Broadway credits include A View from the Bridge, Hamlet, and The Cherry Orchard with Irene Worth, Raul Julia, and Meryl Streep. Off Broadway credits include The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, A Body of Water, Trumpery, Romeo and Juliet, and The Seagull with Joanne Woodward. His film and television credits include The Other Woman, "Rubicon," and "Smash." He wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Shadow Box directed by Paul Newman, as well as the screenplays for Falling in Love with Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro, The Witches of Eastwick, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Breaking Up, and Casanova with Heath Ledger. His directing credits include Gia which introduced Angelina Jolie and earned him a Directors' Guild Award and five Emmy Award nominations.
Michael Greif directed Dear Evan Hansen, the ongoing Broadway smash hit for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical, and the 2017 Broadway musical War Paint. His past Broadway credits include Rent, Grey Gardens, and Next to Normal (all for which he received Tony Award nominations), as well as Never Gonna Dance and If/Then with Idina Menzel. His other recent New York work includes A Parallelogram at Second Stage, Our Lady of Kibeho and Angels in America at NY's Signature Theatre, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide... at The Public Theater and The Tempest, A Winter's Tale, and Romeo and Juliet at The Public's Delacorte Theater.
Single tickets starting at $25, and FlexPasses are available:
· Online at huntingtontheatre.org
· By phone at 617 266 0800
· Select discounts apply: $5 off: seniors (65+); $30 "35 Below" tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required); $20 student and military tickets (valid ID required)
Photo by: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots